« AnteriorContinuar »
aside, that it might not impede her activity in attending the stranger. I should forget Alice's proudest ornament were I to omit mentioning a pair of gold ear-rings and a golden rosary, which her father (for she was the daughter of Donald Bean Lean) had brought from France, the plunder, probably, of some battle or storm.
Her form, though rather large for her years, was very well proportioned, and her demeanour had a natural and rustic grace, with nothing of the sheepishness of an ordinary peasant. The smiles, displaying a row of teeth of exquisite whiteness, and the laughing eyes, with which, in dumb show, she gave Waverley that morning greeting which she wanted English words to express, might have been interpreted by a coxcomb, or perhaps by a young soldier who, without being such, was conscious of
handsome person, as meant to convey more than the courtesy of an hostess. Nor do I take it upon me to say that the little wild mountaineer would have welcomed any staid old gentleman advanced in life, the Baron of Bradwardine, for example, with the cheerful pains which she bestowed upon Edward's accommodation. She seemed eager to place him by the meal which she had so sedulously arranged, and to which she now added a few bunches of cranberries, gathered in an adjacent morass. Having had the satisfaction of seeing him seated at his breakfast, she placed herself demurely upon a stone at a few yards’ distance, and appeared to watch with great complacency for some opportunity of serving him.
Evan and his attendant now returned slowly along the beach, the latter bearing a large salmon-trout, the produce of the morning's sport, together with the angling-rod, while Evan strolled forward, with an easy, self-satisfied, and important gait, towards the spot where Waverley was so agreeably employed at the breakfast-table. After morning greetings had passed on both sides, and Evan, looking at Waverley, had said something in Gaelic to Alice, which made her laugh, yet colour up to her eyes, through a complexion well embrowned by sun and wind, Evan intimated his commands that the fish should be prepared for breakfast. A spark from the lock of his pistol produced a light, and a few withered fir branches were quickly in flame, and as speedily reduced to hot embers, on which the trout was broiled in large slices. To crown the repast, Evan produced from the pocket of his short jerkin a large scallop shell, and from under the folds of his plaid a ram's horn full of whisky. Of this he took a copious dram, observing he had already taken his morning with Donald Bean Lean before his departure; he offered the same cordial to Alice and to Edward, which they both declined. With the bounteous air of a lord, Evan then proffered the scallop to Dugald Mahony, his attendant, who, without waiting to be asked a second time, drank it off with great gusto. Evan then prepared to move towards the boat, inviting Waverley to attend him. Meanwhile, Alice had made up in a small basket what she thought worth removing, and flinging her plaid around her, she advanced up to Edward, and with the utmost simplicity, taking hold of his hand, offered her cheek to his salute, dropping at the same time her little courtesy. Evan, who was esteemed a wag among the mountain fair, advanced as if to secure a similar favour; but Alice, snatching up her basket, escaped up the rocky bank as fleetly as a roe, and, turning round and laughing, called something out to him in Gaelic, which he answered in the same tone and language; then, waving her hand to Edward, she resumed her road, and was soon lost among the thickets, though they continued for some time to hear her lively carol, as she proceeded gaily on her solitary journey.
They now again entered the gorge of the cavern, and stepping into the boat, the Highlander pushed off, and, taking advantage of the morning breeze, hoisted a clumsy sort of sail
, while Evan assumed the helm, directing their course, as it appeared to Waverley, rather higher up the lake than towards the place of his embarkation on the preceding night. As they glided along the silver mirror, Evan opened the conversation with a panegyric upon Alice, who, he said, was both canny and fendy; and was, to the boot of all that, the best dancer of a strathspey in the whole strath. Edward assented to her praises so far as he understood them, yet could not help regretting that she was condemned to such a perilous and dismal life.
Oich ! for that,' said Evan, 'there is nothing in Perthshire that she need want, if she ask her father to fetch it, unless it be too hot or too heavy.'
But to be the daughter of a cattle-stealerthief !'
•Common thief !—no such thing : Donald Bean Lean never lifted less than a drove in his life.' · Do
you call him an uncommon thief, then?' No, he that steals a cow from a poor widow, or a stirk from a cottar, is a thief; he that lifts a drove from a Sassenach laird
is a gentleman-drover. And, besides, to take a tree from the forest, a salmon from the river, a deer from the hill, or a cow from a Lowland strath, is what no Highlander need ever think shame upon.'
*But what can this end in, were he taken in such an appropriation ?'
“To be sure he would die for the law, as many a pretty man has done before him.'
• Die for the law !'
Ay; that is, with the law, or by the law; be strapped up on the kind gallows of Crieff,* where his father died, and his goodsire died, and where I hope he'll live to die himsell, if he's not shot, or slashed, in a creagh.'
You hope such a death for your friend, Evan?'
And that do I e’en; would you have me wish him to die on a bundle of wet straw in yon den of his, like a mangy tyke?'
But what becomes of Alice, then ?'
Troth, if such an accident were to happen, as her father would not need her help ony langer, I ken nought to hinder me to marry her mysell.'
‘Gallantly resolved,' said Edward ; 'but, in the meanwhile, Evan, what has your father-in-law (that shall be, if he have the good fortune to be hanged) done with the Baron's cattle ?'
Oich,' answered Evan, they were all trudging before your lad and Allan Kennedy before the sun blinked ower Ben Lawers this morning; and they'll be in the pass of Bally-Brough by this time, in their way back to the parks of Tully-Veolan, all but two, that were unhappily slaughtered before I got last night to Uaimh an Ri.'
And where are we going, Evan, if I may be so bold as to ask?' said Waverley. Where would
you be ganging, but to the Laird's ain house of Glennaquoich? Ye would not think to be in his country, without ganging to see him ? It would be as much as a man's life's worth.'
And are we far from Glennaquoich ?' 'But five bits of miles; and Vich Ian Vohr will meet us.'
In about half an hour they reached the upper end of the lake, where, after landing Waverley, the two Highlanders drew the boat into a little creek among thick flags and reeds, where it lay perfectly concealed. The oars they put in another place
* See Kind Gallows of Crieff. Note 17.
of concealment, both for the use of Donald Bean Lean probably, when his occasions should next bring him to that place.
The travellers followed for some time a delightful opening into the hills, down which a little brook found its way to the lake. When they had pursued their walk a short distance, Waverley renewed his questions about their host of the cavern.
'Does he always reside in that cave?'
Out, no ! it's past the skill of man to tell where he's to be found at a times; there's not a dern nook, or cove, or corrie, in the whole country that he's not acquainted with.'
* And do others beside your master shelter him?'
‘My master? My master is in Heaven,' answered Evan, haughtily; and then immediately assuming his usual civility of manner, “but you mean my Chief ;—no, he does not shelter Donald Bean Lean, nor any that are like him; he only allows him (with a smile) wood and water.'
• No great boon, I should think, Evan, when both seem to be very plenty
“Ah! but ye dinna see through it. When I say wood and water, I mean the loch and the land ; and I fancy Donald would be put till’t if the Laird were to look for him wi' threescore men in the wood of Kailychat yonder; and if our boats, with a score or twa mair, were to come down the loch to Uaimh an Ri, headed by mysell, or ony other pretty man.'
But suppose a strong party came against him from the Low Country, would not your Chief defend him ?'
'Na, he would not ware the spark of a flint for him—if they came with the law.'
* And what must Donald do, then ?'
*He behoved to rid this country of himsell, and fall back, it may be, over the mount upon Letter Scriven.'
* And if he were pursued to that place?'
* That,' quoth Evan, 'is beyond all belief; and, indeed, to tell you the truth, there durst not a Lowlander in all Scotland follow the fray a gun-shot beyond Bally-Brough, unless he had the help of the Sidier Dhu.' • Whom do
call so?' “The Sidier Dhu? the black soldier; that is what they call the independent companies that were raised to keep peace and law in the Highlands. Vich Ian Vohr commanded one of them for five years, and I was sergeant myself, I shall warrant ye. They call them Sidier Dhu because they wear the tartans, as they call your men-King George's men—Sidier Roy, or red soldiers.
“Well, but when you were in King George's pay, Evan, you were surely King George's soldiers ?'
* Troth, and you must ask Vich Ian Vohr about that; for we are for his king, and care not much which o' them it is. At ony rate, nobody can say we are King George's men now, when we have not seen his pay this twelvemonth.'
This last argument admitted of no reply, nor did Edward attempt any; he rather chose to bring back the discourse to Donald Bean Lean. “Does Donald confine himself to cattle, or does he lift, as you call it, anything else that comes in his
"Troth, he's nae nice body, and he'll just tak onything, but most readily cattle, horse, or live Christians; for sheep are slow of travel, and insight plenishing is cumbrous to carry, and not easy to put away for siller in this country.'
But does he carry off men and women ?'
Out, ay. Did not ye hear him speak o' the Perth bailie? It cost that body five hundred merks ere he got to the south of Bally-Brough. And ance Donald played a pretty sport.
* There was to be a blythe bridal between the Lady Cramfeezer, in the howe o’the Mearns (she was the auld laird's widow, and no sae young as she had been hersell), and young Gilliewhackit, who had spent his heirship and movables, like a gentleman, at cock-matches, bull-baitings, horse-races, and the like. Now, Donald Bean Lean, being aware that the bridegroom was in request, and wanting to cleik the cunzie (that is, to hook the siller), he cannily carried off Gilliewhackit ae night when he was riding dovering hame (wi' the malt rather abune the meal), and with the help of his gillies he gat him into the hills with the speed of light, and the first place he wakened in was the cove of Uaimh an Ri. So there was old to do about ransoming the bridegroom; for Donald would not lower a farthing of a thousand punds,
• The devil !'
Punds Scottish, ye shall understand. And the lady had not the siller if she had pawned her gown; and they applied to the governor o' Stirling castle, and to the major o the Black Watch; and the governor said it was ower far to the northward, and out of his district; and the major said his men were gane
* See Caterans. Note 18.